Album Review: Ducktails – Jersey Devil

By Molly Schramm, Contributor
[New Images; 2017]
Rating: 5/10

Key Tracks: “Map to the Stars”, “Shatter Mirror Travel”

The newest album from New Jersey-based indie group, Ducktails reeks of 80s synth-pop. Jersey Devil is the sixth studio album from former Real Estate guitarist Matthew Mondanile. As the brain-child of the group, Mondanile formed Ducktails as a solo project in 2006 and it has slowly formed into the full band it is today.

Jersey Devil combines the synth-driven sounds of 80s pop with the mellow, ambient feel of modern psychedelic indie music. Overall, the album is quite nostalgic in sound due to its dreaminess and the influence of older music. This is definitely an album that could soundtrack the likes of a John Hughes rom-com or really any 80s drama. A perfect example of this would be “Shatter Mirror Travel”; its upbeat tempo yet mellow mood would set the right mood for any cliché prom scene. The before-mentioned dreaminess of Ducktails’ sound gives way to a carefree notion that’s ideal for a chill late-night drive through the city with the windows rolled down.

While this indie-deemed “bedroom pop” sound is quite appealing to some, it is also quite a niche genre that’s not necessarily for everyone. Mondanile does give some variation in upbeat and slow tempos; however, most songs inherently sound the same and all fall into the same melodramatic sound. While there is definite growth from their previous albums, Jersey Devil isn’t much different from what Ducktails has done in the past. It’s still the same indie-pop that Mondanile has gone for, it’s just more mature. There is also a heavy influence in Mondanile’s work from Real Estate: the only noticeable difference is the lack of Real Estate’s beachy vibes.

Overall, Jersey Devil mostly appeals to those who are fans of indie synth-pop. It’s not likely that one would hear a hardcore fan of country or death-metal listening to Ducktails. However, to those that would, Mondanile and his band have produced a dreamy, indie-inspired album that takes pride in 80s pop. It’s an album that relaxing and is purposefully mellow. Though it may not be for everyone, Jersey Devil is a good choice to put on if you’re looking for something to play in the car or even in the background while you’re doing mundane activities. Mondanile gave his listeners what they would most likely expect, thus not really surprising anyone, yet fueling their need for good indie music.

Listen here:

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